Austin airport breaks passenger record in 2015

Austin-Bergstrom International Airport shattered its all-time passenger record in 2015.

The airport said Monday it saw nearly 12 million passengers last year, an 11 percent jump from 2014, when ABIA set its previous record with 10.7 million travelers.

The 2015 total of 11.9 million passengers gave the airport a fifth consecutive year of record traffic, airport officials said. That total counts both passengers flying into and out of the airport.

“We have grown from 9.1 million annual passengers in 2011 to 11.9 passengers now,” airport spokesman Jim Halbrook said. “We are really reflective of the growth in Austin and the region overall and the economy.”

The airport’s facilities have grown along with the passenger traffic, as ABIA has added an expanded U.S. Customs processing center, rental car facility and checkpoint area.

The Terminal East Infill project added about 56,700 square feet to the terminal and renovated another 17,000 square feet of the existing airport space. The project connected the airport’s east ticket lobby and east concourse and added an expanded, security screening checkpoint for departing passengers.

In October, the airport added a new five-level, 1.6 million square foot garage complex that included a newly expanded rental car facility and 800 visitor parking spots on the ground floor. A new U.S. Customs processing area was added in December 2014.

The growth isn’t done yet: the airport will see construction begin this year on a nine-gate terminal expansion and the addition of a new Hyatt Place hotel. Late this year, a new parking facility with 2,000 spaces and pet boarding is expected to be added on site.

“As the region continues growing, we have begun a lot of construction projects to help accommodate the growth we are experiencing and plan for future growth,” Halbrook said.

Last year’s busiest day was on Oct. 26, the day after Austin’s Formula 1 race. That day, 23,164 travelers passed through security.

Part of what fueled the increase in passenger traffic was several new flight routes. In 2015, ABIA added eight nonstops and new, additional service for six existing nonstop routes.

The airport this summer is also scheduled to add a new nonstop to Frankfurt, Germany, with Condor Airlines.

Airport officials said the increased traffic also meant plenty of eats, entertainment and shopping for travelers, as 2015 travelers enjoyed 65.5 tons of brisket, 693,375 breakfast tacos, 1,190 live music performances — and bought 51,278 “Keep Austin Weird” t-shirts at the airport.

“What you also see through some of these figures is, people really enjoy this airport,” Halbrook said.

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